Why ‘ambient Computing’ Is just a marketing buzzword


Suddenly, “ambient computing” is in the air. I blame Intel, which recently trotted out a concept prototype they call an “Ambient PC.” But like all other hyped examples of so-called “ambient computing,” Intel’s reference design is really just a laptop that does while closed what regular laptops do while open. And that capability doesn’t make the laptop an “ambient computing” device.

In other words, “ambient computing” is just a marketing buzzword for now.

Real “ambient computing” will probably show up in your life when you buy your next car.

Phishing, smishing -- why everyone needs to know social engineering jargon


Social engineering targets human fallibility — flaws in human reasoning. That’s why training and knowledge is key.

But training courses often avoid jargon. That’s a mistake when it comes to social engineering attacks.

The reason is that the definitions of these terms contain within them the methods. To know the words is to expect the attacks — or recognize them when they occur. It’s time to integrate the learning and memorization of social engineering jargon into every security training session. By learning these words cold, employees will also learn to avoid falling prey to social engineering attacks.

Here’s your vocabulary list. There WILL be a test.

Phrase of the moment: "that ageless millennial mindset"


This bonkers job ad for a Radisson hotel in Scotland says that hotel management “connect with that ageless millennial mindset.” They don’t have “staff,” the ad says. They have “creatives.”

Gimme a break.

The job description goes completely off the rails. In addition to doing all the work (cooking, cleaning, serving drinks, booking reservations), “creatives” are also required to be “always laughing with guests.”

They also say they “demand” “a little bit of mischief now and again.”

The madness continues: “The phone rings reservation, you’ve got it and now you are flipping an omelette, catch it! This place is alive and you love it. Smile.”

And for the pièce de résistance, applicants are encouraged to apply by sending a selfie or Instagram link.

This is my fitness program. I'm on the Provence Diet!


I find fitness quite elusive in Provence. Today’s “challenges” are a perfect example as to why, exactly.

Amira and I decided to go on a long, vigorous walk from our apartment in the painfully picturesque French village of Pernes-les-Fontaines. We didn’t get 30 yards before stumbling across an incredible boulangerie we hadn’t tried before. The gravitational pull was too great, and we were forced to buy two baguettes.

Onward with the fitness program!

Except right across the street was a beautiful little shop selling lovingly selected wines and cheese and other stuff, and the tractor beam pulled us in. The shop is owned by a young couple with a baby, and we asked them if they had any local, very interesting, organic, naturally produced wines (trying hard to narrow the scope in an effort to not buy something). Alas, they had dozens of wines fitting that bill, all very reasonably priced.

Plus their cheese was amazing; we bought three cheese types (two of them pictured here) and a very good bottle of 100% mourvèdre, of all things, from an up-and-coming local winemaker.

Horrified, we scamped back to our apartment to put away all this stuff and try again. We decided that the streets were unsafe. We’d run into incredible food shops no matter which direction we ventured in.

Our little town has a moat, which is really an extended creek with a pedestrian walkway next to it. So we decided it would be safer sticking to the creek for our walk.

We got about 50 yards down the creek, when directly parallel we discovered an incredible “producers” market (all the sellers grow or make what they’re selling), with all manner of organic produce, including fresh cherries, ice cream, more cheese, more bread and other goodies. Once again, compelled beyond reason, we purchased more delightful foodstuffs before scampering back to our apartment.

That’s when we gave up, locking the doors and setting our sights on enjoying all the stuff we bought.

Resistance to the Provencal food culture is futile. You WILL be cheesimilated.

Anyway, we’re really enjoying our fitness program.

Dumb flaw in Google Photos means you can't watch a slideshow on iPad

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I just want to see a slideshow on iPad. But this weird flaw won’t let me do it.

Two flaws, really. The first flaw is that for reasons unknown, the iPad app has no slideshow feature.

Fine. The web version does, so if I have an internet connection I can do a slideshow in Chrome or Safari. But no.

For some reason, the profile picture icon actually covers the options menu that contains the slideshow option. So you can’t open the menu.

The top screenshot in this post shows the menu options as it appears with a desktop browser on the top right of the view inside a folder, which contains the vertical dots options menu and the profile picture all the way to the right, out of harm’s way.

The next shot shows the same view in a browser on iPad.

The third shot is a closeup showing the options menu poking out from behind the profile pic.

WTF, Google?

This fugly pizza was AMAZING!!

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Amira and I have eaten pizza every day while in Rome, Naples and Sicily. But this pizza from La Duchessa in Palermo was incredible.

Interestingly, all the pizza we had in Sicily used naturally leavened crust, which makes the crust 100x better. (It’s not typically — we sought out such crust.) And this place also has all naturally leavened crust.

I loved everything about this pizza, which we ordered off the menu but requested the addition of massive amounts of garlic.

I love this pistachio ice cream!

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A cafe here in Palermo called Sikulo describes themselves as a “Cafe, Bistro, Pizzeria, Ice Cream Parlor” — referring to three of the four food groups in their description!

Anyway, Sikulo was operating a tiny food “truck” at the Beer Bubbles craft beer street festival. We tried their ice cream — chocolate chip and pistachio — and it was amazing. Specifically, the chocolate chip was OK, but the pistachio was unbelievable.

I am one lucky bastard

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So we rolled into Palermo. Went into the coffee joint nearest the bus station to finish a column I had been working on. The coffee and WiFi were great. Then we discovered that about an hour after my deadline, a craft beer street festival was to begin near our apartment. We didn’t even know about it. So we spent a couple hours eating street food and drinking craft beer. So much fun.

My office today: the bus to Palermo

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Amira and I hopped on the 12 o’clock bus from Catania to Palermo, which takes us from the East Coast through the center of Sicily and up to the Northwest of the Island.

Internet access was spotty in the countryside (using Google Fi on my Pixel 3), but I was able to make progress on a column I’ve been working on. (As is often the case on busses, WiFi was promised but non-functional.)

Word of the moment: "hamburgeria"

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Wandering around the streets of Catania in Sicily last night, I saw several restaurants that sell hamburgers. They call such a restaurant a “hamburgeria” or “hamburgheria.” And it occurred to me that we don’t have a good general word for such restaurants in the English language. “Burger restaurant”? “Burger joint”? “Burger stand”? These are awkward and unappealing to use. And they can’t be used across restaurant types. They also can’t be used in the same way that “hamburgeria” is used here in Italy, which is to describe one of several restaurant types contained within a single restaurant.

Does “hamburgeria” exist in Spanish as well?